Ohio, dealers work to address propane shortages

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19/AP) - A tight supply of propane is causing concerns for rural Ohio residents who use the fuel to heat their homes, and the governor has relaxed some delivery restrictions to help expedite propane gas shipments.

The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1ePysTD ) reports propane availability is more limited and prices are higher this year for several reasons, including stretches of extreme cold that drained an already depleted supply. In response, some dealers are postponing deliveries and focusing on consumers most in need.

The typical household that uses a tank of propane for heating and cooking might have to pay over $1,500 to refill it with the price of propane going up.

Lykins Oil CEO, Jeff Lykins, says a perfect storm of factors has driven up prices and tightened supplies. The storm began with a good growing season.

"It was a wet fall and the farmers used a lot more propane drying grain than was expected by the industry," explains Lykins

The export market is very attractive to suppliers who are shipping propane to Mexico, Japan and China.

"The deep freeze we've been in has put a strain on supply," says Lykins.

When supplies are tight the price goes up.

"We've seen an increase in our price from our suppliers of about 90 cents over the past two weeks," adds Lykins. "We've raised our price to consumers about 40 to 45 cents".

Other area suppliers say their prices have nearly doubled in the past week, but Lykins says propane is available.

"He have a good supply and we're not short on product, but we are having to go farther to get it," he says. "[We go] as far as North Carolina, in fact, to pull product back to Ohio".

Industry experts say the price of propane is expected to continue to rise in the short term but they predict prices will level out as supplies catch up with demand.

Copyright 2014 FOX19/The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.